Category Archives: Duke Basketball

Harry Giles will play for Duke this season.  Krzyzewski expands on his recent medical procedure with Blue Devil Nation.

No Major Concerns with Harry Giles Injury

Harry Giles will play for Duke this season. Krzyzewski expands on his recent medical procedure with Blue Devil Nation.
Harry Giles will play for Duke this season. Krzyzewski expands on his recent medical procedure with Blue Devil Nation.

During yesterday's Duke Basketball media day, Coach Mike Krzyzewski made it clear that there are no major concerns with Harry Giles surgery.

Giles, who has now had multiple procedures to repair damage in both knees is expected to return in as early as six weeks.

When questioned as to whether this could be a recurring or chronic problem, Krzyzewski responded by saying,  ''I don't think so.  This has nothing to do with the ACL.  Structurally his knees are really good.  It was a clean up.  If there was structure, we wouldn't be saying it's six weeks.  And six weeks is conservative, you know.''

Blue Devil Nation had originally reported that he could be out until early December.  While that is still a possibility in that the staff will not rush the process, the reality is that no specific timetable is etched in stone.

''He'll want to come back before then because he already feels better,  Structurally, he was examined on Saturday, I was there and he's good.  It was the smart thing to do right now,'' Kryzyzewski continued.

Injuries are nothing new at Duke or at any level of basketball.  But Duke offers players who commit to their school some of the best medical care in the nation.

Krzyzewski once dealt with a foot injury to current Cleveland Cavaliers guard star Kyrie Irving.  While the process was different, he showed that he will not put a players NBA future in jeopardy by rushing them back.

That philosophy likely helped Duke land Harry Giles Jr. in the first place.  Being at Duke has also allowed Giles to fast track pretty much the same injury with better care.

While some of the glass half full types in media and the fan base perceive the setback as critical, Giles is certainly in good spirits. Here is what the promising freshman tweeted just after his procedure -

I would think this is Harry Giles way of saying, just wait, I will be back sooner rather than later.

Giles roommate during USA Basketball in Jayson Tatum chimed in on the temporary setback, ''It's nothing we're worried about.  He's going to be back and he'll be ready to go.''

Tatum, like other Duke players including Giles himself and the Blue Devils coaching staff are showing no worry.  In fairness when a player of Gile stature has problems, it is a lightening rod for media attention.

With that said, forget the sensationalized posts you may have read on a message board or an article designed for hits.  The bottom line is Giles will be in uniform and playing for Duke this season.

The only real question that remains is when Duke will decide to play Giles.  With a team that has ample depth, they can afford to take their time.  If read between the lines of Krzyzewski's comments, you can see that he holds his star freshman's long-term future as a high priority.

Harry Giles is working into shape slowly.

More Surgery for Harry Giles


Harry Giles is working into shape slowly.
Harry Giles is working into shape slowly.

DURHAM, N.C. – Duke freshman Harry Giles underwent a successful left knee arthroscopy on Monday.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Claude T. Moorman, head team physician, at Duke University Medical Center.

“We’re very pleased with the outcome of today’s procedure,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “This is the right step for Harry at the moment as it will help him be 100 percent going forward. Harry has done a tremendous job in rehabilitation over the last year and I’m sure he’ll continue to do the same after this procedure.”

The typical recovery time for this procedure is six weeks.

Duke opens the 2016-17 regular season when it hosts Marist on Nov. 11.

Grayson Allen and vets lead Duke Basketball.

Veterans Vital for Duke Basketball Success

Grayson Allen and vets lead Duke Basketball.
Grayson Allen and veterans lead Duke Basketball.

There was a lot of interest in the Duke Basketball open practice on Saturday.  Fans filled the stands on one week's notice to catch a peek at this season's talented team. While the emphasis of their views were likely on the talented freshman newcomers, it's the veterans who will be the key to this year's team.

Duke returns Amile Jefferson, Matt Jones, Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard and Chase Jeter this season.  There are others, but the aforementioned contributed the most.  Not one of those guys fail to remember how Oregon players all but taunted them as last season came to an end.  This will be cause for a chip on their collective shoulders.

There were more instances of falling just short as well.  In road games and even some home affairs the Blue Devils just flat-out lost from lack of depth.   Duke was quite simply vulnerable at times and hard lessons learned will make for a leathery bunch of veteran leaders.

Grayson Allen sat out the most recent practice, but there is no concern for alarm.  Duke is just resting their most valuable player who spurned the NBA for the chance at another National Championship.

Allen had to do it all a season ago.  That combined with a competitive spirit which allows him to  go all out taxed him at times. Some have stated his numbers are sure to go down this season with a deep team.  I am not so sure about that.  The reason being that his fresh legs and not being doubled down on will allow him lots of opportunities to flourish.

When Amile Jefferson went down a season ago to injury, the already thin rotation became even more vulnerable.  Jefferson was having his best season where he was putting up double digits in scoring and rebounding.

During this past weekends practice, Jefferson looked the part of leader in that he was vocal.  You don't want to take Jefferson's emotion away for he thrives on it, yet remains controlled.  It was not easy for Jefferson to sit and watch as his team played hard but fell short in the tournament.

Jefferson has the job of teaching front court players the Duke way.  But he also will be the most seasoned player from the system and that alone will make him a steadying influence as the  youth progresses.

Matt Jones is a favorite of the staff and for good reason.  He is low maintenance and does what is asked of him.  Jones, like all the veterans knows he can go all out in that there are backup options this season.  That will make for a more aggressive approach for all the vets.

8f6189ad-53d9-4430-812d-ec9c1da742c5After a slow start to the season offensively, Luke Kennard became the same scoring threat he was in high school.  With a years experience behind his belt, Kennard will take a major step forward in confidence.  Just imagine when he is hitting at the same time as Allen and you almost feel sympathy for the opponents.

Another player who'll benefit from experience alone is Chase Jeter. Early struggles plagued him last season but the light started to come on late in the year.

The one thing you can be certain of is that the Blue Devils veteran leaders will have a mission and a sense of urgency to win championships.  They know what they want and three players on the roster who own championship rings know the sacrifice it takes.

65c9f1d9-4414-4b27-a340-27d6c8e48072Afterall, it was Grayson Allen's play as a freshman which helped the team win their last national title.  And he may be able to help a freshman understand that when your opportunity comes, be ready for the moment.

It is this group's job to set the tone for the talented newcomers and teach them the Duke way so they too might pass it along.  This group of veterans has character, talent and desire which should bode well for the coming season.

There is little doubt that Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Frank Jackson and Marques Bolden will play big roles for Duke this season.  But the über excitement on this team's potential is there from players we have already seen play.

Duke Basketball held it's first open practice on Saturday.  Pictured here is Jayson Tatum defensing Marques Bolden.

Decoding the Duke Basketball Open Practice

Duke Basketball held it's first open practice on Saturday. Pictured here is Jayson Tatum defensing Marques Bolden.
Duke Basketball held its first open practice on Saturday. Pictured here is Jayson Tatum defending Marques Bolden.

The 2016-17 Duke Basketball team to Coach K Court before several thousand people in Cameron Indoor Stadium this past Saturday.  To the average observer, there may not have been a lot of takeaways, but a closer look reveals specific plans.

As the calendar turned to October the 1st, the Blue Devils staff was able to hold full team practices.  Up to that point, the team was allowed smaller gatherings of which many were conducted while Mike Krzyzewski was winning another Gold Medal for USA Basketball.

Grayson Allen, a preseason All American sat out of the practice.
Grayson Allen, a preseason All American sat out of the practice.

Firstly, let me speak to who did not participate in the practice.  Grayson Allen did not appear until thirty minutes or better into the activities. He strolled into Cameron to a raucous cheer in that he is indeed a true fan favorite.  Allen watched most of the practice before riding an exercise bike on the sidelines,  There is no word on what the official reason for holding Allen out, but an SID said he was just being rested.

Harry Giles is working into shape slowly.
Harry Giles is working into shape slowly.

Those expecting to see Harry Giles early on, may not have read or  recent article titled ''Duke Basketball - What to expect in 2016-17.'' As I said in that article, Giles will be brought along slowly as he recovers from off-season surgery.  While he is participating some away from prying eyes, he did not compete in any drill on this day.

Unlike a season ago, Duke still had more than enough bodies to compete at a high level in practice.  You have to think Mike Krzyzewski and his staff are enjoying this luxury.  The main reason being that Duke can now go all out and do the things they really want to with concern to strategy.

Man to man defense is back.
Man to man defense is back.

What fans were seeing was a return to man to man defense on the practice floor.  You have heard the saying the defense is ahead of the offense and vice versa.  Well, it is clear to those who have followed the program closely that there is an intense effort on said defense.

The practice was a bit jagged, due to many whistles being blown by Krzyzewski.  That may have bored some but it was a teaching moment each time.  During the breaks in play, Krzyzewski told players where they needed to be on the court defensively.  This included switching off and spacing as well positioning and getting into passing lanes.

What we saw from the players during the practice was very aggressive play.  Several players handled the ball and it was clear that many have the green light to bring the ball up.  There were no uncontested moments when this happened for Duke players were more or less in each others grill.  In fact, it was fun to see how contested each attempt to get to the basket became.

Coach K souned his whistle for many teaching moments.
Coach K sounded his whistle for many teaching moments.

This kind of aggressive play is tiring.  By the end of practice some tongues were wagging.  The younger players are especially affected in that they have to learn not just the physical aspects but the mental part of the system as well.  In closing on the talk of Duke playing much more man to man defense this coming season, I can say a clear foundation is in play.

There were no scrimmages on this day and the defense made the offense look stagnant.  That is by design and there are no worries. Every shot was contested and pride was taken in defensive play but there is no shortage of firepower on this years team.  Instead of discussing this on the whole, I will instead give some mini player blurbs below.

Amile Jefferson - He's back.  Jefferson enjoyed his best season to date statistically a year ago before injury.  He moved well and seems one hundred percent recovered.

Matt Jones - Steady, heady play best describes Jones in my opinion. He does the things Coach K likes,

Kennard drives in practice.
Kennard drives in practice.

Luke Kennard - More mature and muscular physically.  Improved handle and is still a scorer.  Played with his usual tenacity and confident.

Antonio Vrankovic - He battled hard in the paint and knows how to get his body on defenders.

Justin Robinson - He's enjoying his role on the pre season's best basketball team.

Chase Jeter - Showed he is going to fight hard for burn.  He looks stronger and more comfortable within the system.

Nick Pagliuca - The walk on hit the buzzer beater in the final drill which you will hear more of below.

For the freshman, I will add a little more depth to my comments in that most have never seen them play or wear Duke Blue.

dsc_0391Jayson Tatum - He was outside oriented during the drills, unafraid of taking any shot.  He shows early signs of being a go-to guy.  He also played good defense.  He seemed a bit winded after practice in that the realization is there are not easy shots in a Duke practice or on the college level.  In short, he had to work hard for his shots.

Frank Jackson - Handled the ball well and had a player in his face at all times. He reciprocated .  What people will see from Jackson is that he likes to get after it and despite his All American smile, has a very competitive side to his game.  He struggled a bit getting to the rack on a day where solid defense was the being played and is learning nothing comes easy.

Jack White - The first thing I noticed about White is that he has a very mature body for a freshman.  He's thick and is learning to play against different, more athletic positions  and players.

Javin DeLaurier - At the end of practice, DeLaurier still looked fresh. The young man has a motor and length and he plays hard.  He's a very nice addition that will fit in well at some point in time.

Marques Bolden - He had the most dunks on the day and he gets off his feet well.  Bolden is solid with his back to the basket and that will be where Duke needs him to play.  A very talented and coachable young man will be  factor early on.

Big cheers for the team after their final drill.
Big cheers for the team after their final drill. Duke Basketball is off and running.

Duke ran what they call a 4;15 drill where the entire team runs full court on both ends with the goal of making 120 shots.  After two days of hard practice it is no surprise that the team started slowly.  With about 35 seconds left, Duke seemed destined to come up way short, but they got hot down the stretch and hit their goal at the buzzer.  The team did this to raucous cheers from what was a sold crowd in Cameron Indoor Stadium.  It is worth noting that a tired team seemed energized by the cheering.  The drill could not have been scripted better and sent fans off wanting more.

Sidebar - There were many moments when the staff could be seen coaching guys on an individual basis.  The floor on Coach K Court features a more traditional brighter wood look this season.  It has had a bit if a yellow hue in the past where some of the more professional photographers had to adjust accordingly.  Duke Basketball will hold media day this Tuesday where Krzyzewski and players will discuss the season to come.


Duke Visits Gary Trent Jr.

Gary Trent Jr. is already familiar with Cameron Indoor Stadium. He can help replace Jayson Tatum pictured with him here in that he is expected to leave for the NBA.
Gary Trent Jr. is already familiar with Cameron Indoor Stadium. He can help replace Jayson Tatum pictured with him here in that he is expected to leave for the NBA.

The Duke Blue Devils men's basketball staff has been rolling right along on the recruiting trail.  Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils have seen many key prospects up close and personal, including Kevin Knox , Wendell Carter Jr., Mohamed Bamba and Gary Trent Jr. as well as others during the open period.

Last evening Duke had their in home visit with key prospect Gary Trent Jr.  Krzyzewski's entire staff consisting of Jeff Capel, Nate James and Jon Scheyer was there to speak of the Duke way of doing things.

There is plenty to talk about when the Duke staff visits.  National Championship rings are worn and this kind of thing is what is expected when wearing the uniform.  Duke has also had phenomenal success in developing players for the next level. The staff likely spoke of developing as a person both on and off the court and the top notch NBA style facilities in Durham.

Gary Trent Jr. may be the next big time Duke verbal commitment.
Gary Trent Jr. may be the next big time Duke verbal commitment.

Then there are the Cameron Crazies and the fan passion to speak about and the constant national spot light as well.  I think you get the picture that Duke Basketball is an elite force without me going further.

The most impressive thing to me about Gary Trent Jr. is his work ethic and his desire to get better.  During a Nike EYBL event I attended last summer, Trent could be seen drilling himself in between games.  While most players were socializing, he was looking to the next game his Howard Pulley team would face while going through workouts.

In watching Trent, you realize he can score the ball.  He is one of the most effective offensive talents in high school basketball.  Perhaps, he is the best.  The budding star has the ability to play great defense as well and expand his game.

Duke has made Trent one of their most important targets.  He visited with his AAU teammate Trey Jones last season where he took in a Duke game while standing with the Cameron Crazies.

Trent will be visiting Cameron Indoor Stadium again for the much anticipated Countdown to Craziness on October the 22nd.  It is also worth noting that he will be joined on that visit by Wendell Carter. These two outstanding players have developed a close relationship on the Nike EYBL circuit.

It is also worth noting that both Trent and Carter have USA Basketball experience as well.  That experience has been something which has worked out well for Duke of late.  After all, Mike Krzyzewski just led the nations team to a third Gold Medal.

Duke is in a position to offer a lot of playing time and open spots to the nation's top prospects.  Duke will lose every projected starter on this years talented team.  In fact, they could lose as many as eight players.

The Blue Devils have had one verbal commitment to date from Alex O'Connell.  Should a player like Trent commit, say shortly after Countdown to Craziness; that would get the ball rolling for the next great class.

Duke Basketball in 2016-17 and What to Expect.

Duke Basketball – What to Expect in 2016-17

Duke Basketball in 2016-17 and What to Expect.
Duke Basketball in 2016-17 and What to Expect.

There is certainly a lot of hype surrounding the 2016-17 Duke Basketball team and for good reason.  The Blue Devils return a solid nucleus of players to go with an outstanding freshman class.  Here are a few tidbits on what to expect this season -

Duke will bring Harry Giles Jr. along slowly in that there is no rush to get him back into playing shape right away.  His rehab is going well and he is getting his timing back as he integrates back into the game. Giles is but one of the reasons this year's Duke team will be perhaps the best rebounding team Mike Krzyzewski has had.

A season ago, Duke leaned on varying players to run the point guard spot at times.  The Blue Devils lost Derryck Thornton in  the off-season but there is no reason to panic.  What you will see this season is point guard by committee.  Grayson Allen came back to Duke for another season and he will get his chances at running the team.  In a sense, this will help his NBA career by adding to his skill set.  Duke will also rely on Matt Jones, Luke Kennard here as well.  And then there is of course, the talented newcomer in Frank Jackson.  What Duke likely wants is for these guys to be a bit interchangeable.

Luke Kennard is but one returning Blue Devil.
Luke Kennard is but one returning Blue Devil on this years talented Duke Basketball team.

Duke has crazy depth this season.  The team has gone from not being able to hold traditional practices due to lack of numbers last season to a place of luxury.  This will be one of the tallest rosters ever for Duke and there are multiple players who can play varying positions.  Besides, we all know there are no positions at Duke.

The Blue Devils can throw a lot of players at you in the post this season.  Giles was a beast on the high school level but skilled enough to come at you in different ways.  The return of an even stronger Amile Jefferson is a major plus.  Not only will he groom younger players in the Duke way of doing things, he'll be a major factor.  He was averaging a double-double when he went down a season ago. There is no doubt that Chase Jeter will be much improved and he will be joined by newcomer Javin DeLaurier who supposedly grew another inch since committing to Duke. One of the more intriguing players will be Marques Bolden.  Having seen all the guys in high school, I know he can be a factor, especially when motivated,  Duke will be very versatile up front with solid scoring options.

Matt Jones
Matt Jones will provide leadership as a co captain on this years team.

I spoke to team depth and that means expect Duke to play much better defense this season.  The Blue Devils can throw a lot of players at you and that means fresh legs which will enable them to press and fill the passing lanes.  Duke Basketball competed by going to a zone in recent years and we will still see some of that, but we will also see a return to man to man defense.  There should be plenty of talent that knows how to switch in said defense and help when guys are beat on ball.

There is no one category that fits Jayson Tatum well if we are talking front or back court.  That is because he would play shooting guard in a pinch but will settle in as the best small forward or the best tall wing on this years team.  Blessed with a super skill set he can even learn to be a great defender which is something to watch out for.   It is notable that Tatum stands at 6-8, but there are no less than six players taller than him on the roster.

Team chemistry will be a key this season and reports are that the team gets along well.  They grew up a lot and learned to Duke way while getting to know one another when Mike Krzyzewski and Jeff Capel were helping Team USA win Gold.  It helps when you have a veteran assistant in Nate James and Jon Scheyer guiding the team through workouts.  One of the overlooked strengths of this team and program is the current staff.  Capel is the most grizzled assistant Mike Krzyzewski has ever had.  In fact, I would venture to say this is the best staff Duke hoops has had and that is saying a lot.

Three of the four pre season publications has Duke ranked first in the nation.  Duke will play nine currently ranked team games according to Blue Ribbon which is likely the best preview of the bunch.

Grayson Allen is an All American and National Player of the Year Candidate.
Grayson Allen is an All American and National Player of the Year Candidate.

Grayson Allen has been featured as a first team All American and Player of the Year Candidate in the pre season.  Many are saying his numbers will drop with such a talented team, but I personally wonder about that.  The reason being that teams will not be allowed to double-team him as they did a season ago and he will not have to carry the burden which will allow him fresh legs.

Duke will score the ball.  The offensive potential of this years team is off the charts.  Besides the aforementioned Allen, Duke can score from every single position on the court.  Good luck to teams trying to shut one player down for the rest of the cast will make you pay. There is the hard-nosed ability of Luke Kennard to shoot the three, the slashing ability of Frank Jackson and a steady Matt Jones in the backcourt.  Up front, Jefferson was coming into his own before injury a season ago and Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles were fill it up guys in high school.  And wait until you see that Marques Bolden can pop outside as well as play with his back to the basket.

In closing, Duke Basketball will have some epic practices.  It's hard not to leave a player name out or miss pointing out strengths in one article. That's how crazy talented this year's team will be.  It will be a fun year and we are getting ready to start hearing more and more hype for the season is upon us.